Published in Economic Development
Medical marijuana business to open GR production facility, emphasize equitable hiring COURTESY PHOTO

Medical marijuana business to open GR production facility, emphasize equitable hiring

BY Sunday, June 14, 2020 08:16pm

GRAND RAPIDS — A Colorado firm plans officially to open a 35,000-square-foot medical marijuana production facility next week in Oak Industrial Park, where it is in the process of harvesting its first batch of product.

Terrapin Investment Fund III LLC, doing business as Terrapin Care Station, has a Class C growing and processing facility at 2055 Oak Industrial Drive NE. The space near the merging of I-96 and I-196 formerly housed the nonprofit Kids’ Food Basket

Grand Rapids-based Orion Construction handled the build out of the facility for Terrapin, which bought the facility for $1.4 million in September 2019. 

Terrapin Care Station will have 30 employees, and is hosting a virtual job fair on June 23 with an emphasis on social equity in hiring. In a time when many corporations are posting support for Black Lives Matter and racial justice initiatives on social media, Terrapin wanted to “let its actions speak,” said Peter Marcus, communications director for Terrapin Care Station.

“We felt it would be negligent to open a new opportunity that didn’t address how certain communities were put to a disadvantage disproportionately by cannabis legalization,” Marcus said. 

Black people are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people, even though marijuana use among black and white people is about equal, according to a report from the American Civil Liberties Union.

A social equity program called Color of Cannabis will oversee an informational session and resume workshop on Zoom from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on June 18 for people of color seeking jobs at Terrapin. Applicants will be encouraged to join the June 23 virtual job fair. 

The Boulder, Colo.-based Terrapin has six vertically integrated dispensaries in Colorado and operates a medical cannabis growing and processing facility in Pennsylvania, which supplies 85 dispensaries in the Keystone State.

Terrapin’s Grand Rapids facility will be similar to the company’s operation in Pennsylvania. The facility will initially focus on supplying West Michigan dispensaries, and will scale up to rolling out product throughout the entire state over the next few months, Marcus said. Terrapin plans to start shipping cannabis the week of June 22 from its facility to provisioning centers.

The Grand Rapids City Commission could vote at its June 16 meeting to allow existing medical marijuana processors, growers and transporters to also handle recreational marijuana products for customers outside the city. If the measure passes, it would allow Terrapin Care Station to also supply marijuana for recreational use to provisioning centers outside of Grand Rapids.

Terrapin is not advocating to rush the process of Grand Rapids allowing for the sale of adult-use marijuana, Marcus said, but the company is working with the city to roll out a responsible recreational program. 

“We are an adult-use company in Colorado, and have a lot of experience with it,” Marcus said.

The Terrapin Care Station in Grand Rapids is not a provisioning center where people can buy marijuana, but if an opportunity came up that “felt like the right fit,” the company could potentially open a storefront in the future, Marcus said.

“We want to first introduce ourselves with the community,” Marcus said.

Part of that introductory process involves Terrapin supporting local nonprofits, such as lending resources and donations to Kids’ Food Basket and MomsBloom nonprofits, Marcus said. Terrapin plans to provide supplies and volunteers for Kids’ Food Basket’s urban farming program, as well as mentorship and training on sustainable farming practices, Marcus said. The company also is a contributor and sponsor of MomsBloom, which connects volunteers with families of newborns to provide them with postpartum support.

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